Air cadets will shine bright at hillfort WW1 beacon event

They are well drilled in outdoor challenges, but cadets from 1165 (Oswestry) Squadron, Air Training Corps are currently preparing for field manoeuvres of a very different kind as part of WW1 commemorations on the Shropshire/Wales border.

Cadets from 1165 Oswestry Air Training Corps will play a major role at the Old Oswestry hillfort WW1 beacon lighting on the evening of November 11
Cadets from 1165 Oswestry Air Training Corps will play a major role at the Old Oswestry hillfort WW1 beacon lighting on the evening of November 11

Under the cover of darkness, the youngsters will take up positions on the slopes of Old Oswestry hillfort on November 11 as a beacon is lit in tribute to fallen WW1 soldiers on the centenary of Armistice Day.

Closely supervised by their instructors, the cadets, aged from 12 to 19, will illuminate the number 100 on the ramparts of the 3,000-year-old monument situated just north of Oswestry. Meanwhile, members of the public will form a remembrance glow on nearby Gatacre playing field with torches, lanterns and glow sticks. The Squadron will also be on hand with a banner display on Gatacre where people will view the burning beacon at a safe distance.

The beacon will join 1000s across the UK in the Battle’s Over national remembrance of those who lost their lives, 100 years on from the Armistice that ended WW1.

The day will be particularly busy for the cadets, which will see them switch from their blue uniforms for the remembrance parade in the morning into field appropriate attire for the beacon lighting.

Flight Lieutenant Hugh Higley, Officer Commanding, said: “We are honoured to be supporting this local event, which will be a unique part of a national act of remembrance in recognition of the fallen. We look forward to providing these displays for all who attend, with thanks to the Oswestry Heritage Gateway and the volunteers who will be making this evening possible.”

The hillfort community group, Oswestry Heritage Gateway, is working with English Heritage, local authorities, organisations, businesses and volunteers to stage the event in association with the Wilfred Owen Festival. Members of the public are being asked to bring safe types of lantern, candle, torch or glow stick (no naked flames) to create a reflective glow of remembrance for those who lost their lives in battle.

Additional stewards are being sought to help with event build-up and marshalling. Anyone who would like to volunteer should contact 01691 652918 or email ohgateway@gmail.com

During WW1, thousands of troops descended on Oswestry’s Park Hall military camp for battlefront training using practice trenches within the hillfort’s plateau. Hidden at the time behind trees covering the ramparts, they were designed to replicate early trench systems on the Western Front and are among just a handful of WW1 practice trenches in Europe that survive intact today.

Oswestry’s famous son, the war poet Wilfred Owen, was probably among the many that prepared for action on the hillfort when he was stationed at Park Hall in 1916 to train troops in the use of the Enfield rifle.